How Did She Do That?

Last week was not a good one.  I had a tooth break in half.  We found out our very capable daughter was not turning in school work.  Our checking account was overdrawn.  Evil Bitch texted Husband.  Well, why not?  Add it to the week.

When Husband brought this to me, he was very upset.  EB said it was just a reminder to keep paying extra to have her number blocked, because she’s still psychotic and bitter.  Now, Husband and I are not very tech savvy, but we could not figure out how she texted him.  Her number WAS blocked from his cell, so how did she do it?  And she seemed to somehow know she would get through to him from her cell!  How was this possible?  I decided to call AT&T and figure this out.

The customer service rep for AT&T was wonderful!  We talked for about thirty minutes, and she explained it all to me.  She told me that both Husband and EB have iPhones, and have imessaging turned on.  From my understanding, when this happens, all texts are through the iOS, which goes into the data plan.  This is completely separate from billed texts and calls.  And if you block somebody’s number, you are only blocking the billed texts and calls.  They can still text you if your imessaging is turned on.  Moreover, whether it’s turned on or off, blocked or not, they can always send you photos.

This explained so much to me.  I saw that the last few months of their relationship, the texting dramatically decreased.  Husband could never explain to me why they went from over 800 texts a month down to about 10.  I asked if they were using some type of online messaging, and he always told me no.  In fact, there were times he told me he had texted her (not something in his favor to lie about), that didn’t show up on our bill.  Deep down, I still felt like I was being lied to.  I knew things didn’t add up.  Now they do.  EB got a new iPhone for Christmas, which was the time that the texting stopped showing up on our bill.  My guess is that she was turning off her imessaging to save on data, then turning it back on to keep certain texts from showing up on her bill and on ours.  Evidently, sometimes she would forget to turn it back on, which is when the texts would show up on our bill.  I’m sure she realized that Husband didn’t know anything about all this, which is why she figured her text would go through to him last week.

Of course, Husband immediately turned his imessaging off.  He is thinking about just getting a new number, since we found out she’ll always be able to send him photos.  He asked for my thoughts on this, because he wants me to be comfortable.  I told him that will never happen.  If I choose to stay with Husband, EB will always be a part of my life.  She once e-mailed me that I can’t control her.  That if she wants to contact my husband, all she has to do is call from another number, call him at work or show up there.  This is all true.  If she wants contact with him badly enough, she’ll find a way to make it happen.  There’s nothing I can do to protect myself from her intrusion, so seeking comfort will only leave me disappointed.

Still, I wish we would’ve known about the imessaging a long time ago!

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Hurdle #4–The Closed-Off Husband

When my husband and I decided to stay together and work on our marriage after his emotional affair, I made some rules perfectly clear.  He was to have no contact with Evil Bitch.  He had to give up his personal e-mail account.  He was to block EB’s number from his cell phone.  He and I were to live with total transparency and honesty.  We put in place a list of rules to affair-proof our marriage in the future.  We were to support each other in every way, including emotions.  Strangely enough, the last rule was the only one that Husband had a problem with.

At first, Husband claimed to be 100% on board.  Whatever I needed, he wanted to give me.  He became involved in my toxicity illness…wanting to come with me to doctor appointments, make me dinner that fit in my dietary restrictions and asking me daily how I was feeling.  He was rubbing my back at night.  He would leave me little notes before he left for work, just saying he loves me and hoping I have a good day.  He was being wonderful, and I appreciated the effort.  I hate to say I wanted more, because I knew he was really trying.  Yet, more is exactly what I wanted.

As well as we were getting along, it seemed artificial to me.  Everything was pleasant, but it was on the surface.  Inside, I felt like we had no emotional connection.  I desperately missed my best friend.  The man that I could talk to about anything and everything.  He was guarded, and felt distant to me.

Husband was never really one to share his emotions.  I knew this from the get-go, and accepted that about him in the past.  This time was different.  While he may never have been an open book, there was a time when we couldn’t wait for the kids to go to bed.  Those sweet couple of hours between them dozing off and our turn to do the same, we would snuggle in bed and talk.  And talk.  And talk.  About our dreams, our hopes and our fears.  Our past and our future.  Jobs, kids, likes, dislikes, pets, friends, technology, art, etc.  What we ate for lunch that day.  What we would do if we won the lottery.  Favorite movies, songs, colors, foods and holidays.  We just enjoyed talking to one another.  Suddenly, Husband had nothing to say to me that didn’t revolve around my illness, our kids or his job.  If I would start asking him questions, he’d rub his eyes and seem disinterested.  It was like I was an annoying gnat that he couldn’t swat away from his face.  I missed our connection, and was afraid it was gone forever.

I tried talking to Husband about this many times.  I begged him to open up to me.  I suppose, because of everything that’s happened, he thought “talking” could only mean talking about the affair.  I suppose he probably thought that I was just waiting for another opportunity to pour salt into that wound.  I told him that not every talk has to be an emotional, two-hour cry-fest.  That I just desperately wanted to feel he was interested in who I am again.  That we needed to learn how to be best friends again.  It seemed to fall on deaf ears.  He told me he hoped I could learn to accept the person he is, and not need to change him.  Then, I began to pull away, out of frustration and defeat.  I told him that I was trying to learn to depend on him to meet my physical needs, and my friends to meet my emotional ones.  He seemed just fine with that arrangement.  For awhile.

I don’t know how it happened.  I don’t know what changed.  After six months of me asking for my friend back, he started talking to me.  One night, before going to my son’s football practice, he told me to think about two questions:  If I woke up healthy and back to normal, what foods would I eat, and what my dream vacation would be.  I was giddy just thinking about it!  That night, we laid in bed talking for a couple of hours.  We laughed a lot.  It was easy and perfect.  I told him I appreciated the effort, and he told me there was no effort.  That once we got started, it all fell right back into place.  It was natural.

Truth be told, I believe it was the guilt that kept him away for so long.  He has been very hard on himself.  I don’t think it was a conscious decision, to keep me at a distance.  I think he was protecting me from being any more disappointed in him.  I think he felt he didn’t deserve the best of me.  I think it was about punishing himself, unfortunately also punishing me in the process.  I asked him what changed, and he said he wasn’t sure.  That he just had a “What am I doing?” moment.  Maybe he feared I would fall in love with someone else that would take an interest in me.  Maybe he realized he missed our connection as well.  Whatever prompted this change, I thank God for it!

Can I say that we are now best friends, and living as if Husband’s affair never happened?  Nope.  Can I say I forgive him with all my heart?  Huh uh.  But, I can say that I feel closer to him than I have in a long time.  That we are enjoying each other’s company again.  That we both have a lot of opinions that are worth hearing.  That I’m beginning to fall in love again…with my husband of 15 years.  And most of all, that somehow, by the grace of God, this has been one hurdle I didn’t have to keep tripping over alone.

Celebrating 15 Years–Or Not

Every married couple who tries to move past an infidelity has to deal with it:  the dreaded anniversary.  Our first wedding anniversary post Husband’s affair was our 15th.  I had been looking forward to it.  What a milestone!  What a testament to our love and commitment!  What a sham!

It was last June, only two months after all was exposed.  I was still neck-deep in sorrow, but tried to put on a happy face.  I went through the motions, while inside I wanted to curl up into a ball and cry until I was dry.  We had taken the kids to the beach for a few days.  The entire drive, all I could think of was the last time Husband drove that stretch of highway.  He was interviewing for a job in another city, and had texted with Evil Bitch the whole time.  Just thinking about it knotted my stomach.

While at the beach, we had some nice family moments.  Walking in the sand as the sun rose and set.  Buying fresh seafood at the pier for a boil.  Browsing through the local gift shops.  Trying to be a solid family again, when inside we were so broken.

Because we were traveling home on our actual anniversary, Husband and I decided to exchange gifts on our last night at the coast.  There was a funny moment when we each unwrapped the same present.  Both of us had put together a photo book of our marriage.  We both even included the lyrics to the song we danced to at our wedding.  Great minds…or sentimental ones anyhow.  I also gave Husband a framed picture of me in my wedding dress–15 years after he’d last seen me in it.  Although I saw a much older bride, he thought it was beautiful.  He also gave me a diamond pendant.  I’d always wanted one.  He tried to buy me one when we were dating, but he was a poor college student, and I wouldn’t let him.  It was always our joke–someday I’d get my diamond necklace.  And I did.  I cried like a baby.

Sounds like a great anniversary, right?  As I said, I went through the motions, yet it all seemed like a lie.  We were celebrating vows that Husband didn’t keep.  “In sickness and in health…forsaking all others.”  Fifteen incredible, beautiful years had been reduced to so little by his emotional affair.  I felt like he tarnished my every precious memory of our time together.  One of the hardest things for me, is that I truly believed in the institution of marriage.  Especially ours.  I meant every promise I made with all my heart, and I’ve kept them all.  It kills me that he didn’t.

For now, I’ve decided that I am done commemorating our wedding date.  I need to separate our past from our future.  This has been very difficult for Husband, and I do feel bad for that.  He wants to focus on all that we’ve shared.  He’s holding onto it for dear life.  I am running away from it as fast as I can.  I have to, because it doesn’t make sense to me anymore.  And if I can’t make sense of our past, what are we doing together today?  I need to let it go for my sanity and any hope of our survival.  It’s hard, but he does understand it.  I used to wear my wedding ring proudly every day.  Now I can’t stand to look at it, so Husband bought me a small, gold band to take its place.  It says exactly what it’s intended for:  I’m married.  There are no promises or sentiment behind it at all.  For my last birthday, I asked my parents for my wedding video to be put on a DVD.  I hadn’t seen it in years, and when I did watch it, Husband sat in the next room (texting her?).  Now, the disk is put away.  It’s all put away.  Everything pertaining to the day we were married.  I just had to do it.

Recently, we talked about possibly renewing our vows someday.  This time, we thought it would be nice to go away for a few days, just Husband and me.  Instead of making promises in front of a pastor, we decided it might be nice to write down exactly what the other person means to us and what our true intentions are.  Just us, in secret.  And while the rest of the world may acknowledge our old wedding date, we’d celebrate the new date.  The start of the next chapter in our lives.  Shedding the old, and moving forward.  And maybe I’d enjoy my next 15th anniversary more.  It’s a nice thought, but we’re not quite ready for that yet.  When it happens, I want to be 100% committed to our life together.  I want total forgiveness and love in my heart.  I hope to get there someday, instead of in this limbo I’m in right now.  I pray for it daily.  Until then, no more wedding anniversaries for me!

It Hasn’t Killed Me Yet

Today is my two year floxiversary.  What is that, you ask?  I understand, because it’s not a common term.  It marks two years since I became sick.  Let me explain…

On October 4, 2010, I woke up with a UTI.  I decided to run by the minor emergency clinic on my way to work.  My urine looked terrible, so the doctor gave me an antibiotic called Levaquin and sent me on my way.  I went to work, took the pill and started my day.  Within an hour, the left side of my face was swelling.  I was shaking, couldn’t breathe well, had a rapid heart rate, and laid on the bathroom floor feeling sick.  I took a Benadryl, my boss drove me home, and I was sure the worst was behind me.  I was wrong.

The next few months were the scariest of my life.  I was so nauseous every day that I couldn’t eat and lost 20 lbs. in a month.  My legs didn’t want to work right–nothing in my body wanted to work right.  The doctors couldn’t figure it out, as they searched for positive signs of cancers and autoimmune diseases.  I kept explaining that I’d been sick since an allergic response to Levaquin, but nobody (including me) really thought that could be the culprit.  Wrong again.

It took us six months to come to the realization that I was dealing with Levaquin Toxicity.  My body treats it, and other fluoroquinolone antibiotics as poison.  It affected every part of my body.  Through the last two years, my symptoms have included:  joint, tendon and muscle pain, muscle wasting, anxiety, bouts of insomnia and over-sleeping, memory loss, dizziness, skin rashes, phototoxicity, peripheral neuropathy, low blood pressure, bouts of constipation and diarrhea, chronic nausea, reflux, gastritis, eye problems, tinnitus, hair loss, broken teeth, etc.  Many tests have shown cysts and lesions on my kidneys, liver, spleen, uterus, ovaries, lungs and brain.  I had a hiatal hernia.  I had hypothyroidism.  It was like a bomb went off inside of me.

So, where am I today?  On my way towards health.  I have a very strict diet.  I tire easily.  My immune system is so low that I pick up every little bug going around.  I still can’t go out dancing, but I get excited doing the little things I used to take for granted–laundry, grocery shopping or playing board games with my kids.  I have some semblance of a normal life again, and it feels so good.  I have come a very long way from that deathly ill woman who spent months on the bathroom floor.  I’m thrilled with my progress.

I’ve written a bit about Husband’s distance through the worst of my illness.  I understand how difficult it must be to watch your spouse suffer, and not be able to do anything to help.  I know he really suffered through his emotions, just as I did.  Unfortunately, he chose to also begin a relationship with another woman.  That, in turn, did just as much damage to me as the Levaquin.  I had been doing much better before the affair came out.  Afterwards, I slid back quite a bit.  To this day, if somebody else brings up Evil Bitch to me, I shake uncontrollably (damaged nervous system).  The illness has left me very ill-equipped to deal with something so hurtful.  Yet, I’m managing somehow.  It hasn’t killed me yet.

Husband feels terrible about all of this.  Not only does he see that he pulled away from me when I needed him the most, but he knows his affair added to my medical problems.  These days, he is being much more supportive.  He reads articles I print out about Fluoroquinolone Toxicity.  He discusses them with me.  He wants to know what the doctors tell me, and any test results.  He’s pulling for me.  Right beside me.  Today, when I woke up, I had a very sweet card waiting for me.  Later, I received flowers.  He wanted to make this two year floxiversary special.  He wanted to remind me of how far I’ve come.  He wanted to apologize for all he’s done to hurt me.  We are both on the same page.  We both have every intention of me healing 100%.

Today, I am filled with such a mixture of feelings.  I am proud of how far I’ve come, but I still miss the “normal” me.  I am grateful that Husband is so supportive now, but still hurt over all the time he wasn’t.  I want to hold him and thank him for making this day special, but still don’t want him to think all is forgiven.  But, I guess that’s how it’s supposed to be.  Just as I can’t heal my body overnight, we can’t heal our marriage overnight.  It’s a long, arduous journey.  And I’m crossing my fingers and toes that it’s one journey worth taking.

Hurdle #3–Why?!?

When you are faced with the knowledge that your spouse had an affair, one question is always in the front of your mind:  WHY?  You dissect all the information you are given, you play back your interactions with your spouse during the affair, and it’s still there in your head.  Why, why, why?  How could he do this to me?  To our family?  And often, as in my case, your partner will look you in the eye and tell you, “I don’t know.”  After many months of discussion, I began to realize that Husband was just as dumbfounded as I was.

Of course, there were some reasons that our house was a bit more stressful than usual before the affair.  To begin with, Husband was having a difficult time dealing with my illness.  Truthfully, my health consumed me.  I tried to include him in all the research and doctor’s appointments, but he seemed uninterested.  He pulled away, because it was too overwhelming.  In turn, I pulled away because I thought he was tired of it all.  Instead, I became involved in support groups and hid a lot of what I was going through from him.  I thought I was making him not have to worry so much.  I thought I was protecting him.  Money was (and still is) a big issue.  We’ve always “just gotten by”.  Suddenly, I had to leave my job and the medical bills were piling up.  We didn’t have enough to pay them, and sometimes he’d slam them down.  Along the same line, Husband has a job that he hates.  With a passion.  He has put energy into finding a new job, but we’re all well aware of today’s economy.  Needless to say, finding something new that would pay enough to warrant a move hasn’t been easy.  Put these issues with kids, dogs, the house, and life, and yes…it was a little stressful and depressing in our home.  Does this excuse an affair?  No.

The truth is, that Husband formed a relationship outside of our marriage for the same reason I imagine most affairs start:  it felt good.  Have a wife who is too involved in her own health?  Complain about it to the other woman.  No sex life?  The other woman will sympathize.  Feeling not so great about what you offer the world?  The other woman thinks you’re incredible.  She understands.  She always understands.  With her, you are young and invincible.  With her, you are charming and witty.  She hasn’t heard all your stories yet, but she’s dying to.  She’s dying to know your views on politics, music, art, child-rearing, careers…she wants it all.  And you want to be the person for her to bare her soul to.  It makes you feel special and important.  You are flirtatious, and it feels good to be desired so much.  You have an emotional bond with this other person, and you fall in love.  And there it is.  Friendship turns into love.

Husband has a very difficult time with this.  At first, I heard a lot about my illness.  Then I reminded him that he was putting the blame on me, over a situation I had no control over.  He said it was hard on him to not be able to fix me.  I reminded him that if he was really so concerned about me getting better, he would’ve put effort into research instead of doing something that hurt me MORE than being sick.  He said he needed advice on how to deal with the illness.  I reminded him that he has yet to tell me one thing she advised him about.  She wasn’t telling him to talk to my doctors; she was helping him focus on what a raw deal he got by having a sick wife.  Now, Husband realizes that in fact, his affair was all about feeding his ego.  It makes him feel like crap to know he put his family on the line for such a selfish reason, but he sees it.

Friendship turned into love.  It’s a very dangerous game.  We would all like to think there’s no harm in having friends of the opposite sex, but it’s playing with fire.  Am I suggesting that you can’t speak with anybody of the opposite sex?  No, but I am suggesting that you steer clear of anything intimate or emotional.  An example:  right after everything came out, I was speaking with a dear friend on the phone about it.  She kept telling me how Husband was just caught up in a serious friendship, and I needed to let it go.  She told me how she has had a male friend for a long, long time and they have always been “just friends”.  He lost his wife over his relationship with my friend.  Then, he lost his new girlfriend for the same reason.  He finally talked his wife into coming back, but decided this time it would be safer to keep his “friendship” with my friend a secret.  They just couldn’t see what was wrong with being so intimate with each other…after all, they hadn’t had sex!  She lives in another state, so what’s the problem?  I heard from my friend last night.  After years of being “just friends” with him, she is now moving.  To his state.  Into his house.  Wasn’t this the same woman who told me I was overreacting?!?  There is no doubt in my mind that Husband’s relationship with EB would’ve eventually become physical.  They were too invested in each other.  My daughter once told me that the way she sees it, God gave us a gift in this coming out before it was so far gone that we had no choice but to leave.  That’s one hell of a smart 13 year old.  And I’ll bet once she finds her Prince Charming, she will be very careful about inviting friends of the opposite sex into her marriage.  Let’s hope her husband will be too.

So, after six months of why, why, why, I am beginning to feel myself letting this go.  I know why.  Husband knows why.  If it didn’t feel so damned good, he wouldn’t have ever put us through this.  He got carried away in a game, just as he probably did a million times as a kid.  He thought he could win and have it all.  And then he had to learn the agonizing truth…that he is a man, and the stakes are much higher than pretend monies.  Hopefully, both of us can forget the question, but always remember the answer, so we can protect our marriage from ever going through this again.